Punk Rock Academy Fight Song – Scratches and Needles

June 21, 2010

Everybody remembers their first time right? You know the awkward conversation, the nervous laughter, the slight feeling of dread, the incessant buzzing sound and in some cases a long drive home from Hollywood. Huh? What? Yeah that’s right we all remember our first tattoo. Because for a lot of us getting that first bit of ink under our skin is as much a rite of passage as well that other thing you thought I was talking about. For me it happened my freshman year in college I had forty bucks in my pocket from selling one of my textbooks and the long simmering desire to get tattooed. It wasn’t a rash spur of the moment decision fueled by too many shots of Bushmills but rather a sober rational thought almost as if I was just going down to the store to get some milk. No big deal really. I remember matter of factually telling my mom that I was going to Hollywood with my buddy Nate and that I was going to get tattooed. My mothers response was a resounding Por mi pinta te las nalgas-spanish for yeah right go get your ass tattooed. Now this response is important to note for two reasons number one that my mom is from Guatemala and in Guatemala only convicts had tattoos and number two i was a pretty good kid who was always threatening to do all sorts of goofy crazy things and my mom didn’t believe I would actually do it. So I kissed my mom goodnight headed over to Nates house and hopped on the 10 freeway on our way to Hollywood. At this point your wondering why the hell did this yahoo drive all the way out to Hollywood and the answer to that is that in 1994 the only place a kid from San Gabriel to get tattooed was either out in Hollyweird or in some gangsters garage or I could’ve joined the Navy and gotten one in the Philippines. About 30 minutes later we found ourselves inside LA Tattoo on Hollywood Blvd or was it Sunset or Melrose-whatever it was a typical Hollywood tattoo shop. The actual tattoo shop was in the back the front of the neon light place sold Harley T-shirts, belts chains and other assorted wannabe rocker paraphernalia. Me and Nate were looking for Baby Ray because our buddy Dario had gotten tattooed by him and he is apparently very well known. Lucky for me it was a slow night and Baby Ray wasn’t working that night-cause he would not have tattooed me for the measly 40 bucks I had on me. But the other guy working that night was bored and broke. So another 30 minutes and 40 bucks later I proudly strutted out of LA Tattoo with my badass piece of work- a superman shield with my initials in the middle freshly carved on my upper left arm, full color baby. I was now part of the underground society of badasses and we celebrated my induction with a tall can of Fosters.

Truth be told it was obviously a cheesey ass tattoo but at least it wasn’t a barbed wire arm band. But the experience wasn’t really about that first bad one but rather about the fact that I knew I wanted more. It was a validation of my status as a misfit and an outsider. I never wanted to be like everyone else, straight laced and boring. Maybe I was inspired by my uncle Herbert -he was a cousin of my moms who would visit us every now and then. He rode a motorcycle and always had this kinda weird smell hovering around him but he also had tattoos and was a little dangerous or maybe it was Popeye and the anchors on his forearms or was it Mike Ness when I first saw Social D looking like a pissed off inked up Elvis.

Something just hit me and it stuck. I always look at tattoos as away of keeping people at arms length and letting them in at the same time. They are a reflection of who I really am but if I don’t like you you’ll never know what they mean. They are an attention getter and a repellant all at once and I like it that way.To this day my mom still asks me if I’m ever going to stop and I sheepishly say no. Sorry ma I love’em. My dad thinks they’re cool and doesn’t care because I have my college degree. My wife is so used to the she forgets they’re on me and my daughter likes the smiling skeleton( it’s a skull and anchor) one day and is scared of it the next. And I still have that first bad one because much like that other first time it might not be the best but it happened and you gotta live with it.


-Daniel N-


Read more from Punk Rock Academy Fight Song HERE